Recently I got asked in an interview ‘What’s been your political highlight of 2016?’.
After a long pause I was sad to say I didn’t have one as 2016 has been a terrible year for politics at home; abroad it has been beyond heart-breaking.
The unbelievable cruelty of people has been seen almost daily with indiscriminate murder and reports of horrendous torture on such a scale that the international community has at times struggled to respond.
Our nation is being placed in the impossible position of trying to take a course of action, whilst knowing what they are witnessing is horrific but being unable to get aid or assistance to those most in need and unable to secure peace.
Wars and ongoing conflict in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere have led to millions of people being killed or displaced, we have seen daily on our television screens people’s homes being bombed, children starving and the utter pain and anguish of those who have lost their loved ones.
At home we’ve seen dramatic political shifts, a vote for an exit from the European Union and a new Prime Minister, changing our relationship with the world forever.
Neither of which have heralded any major improvements for the people of the country.
With the EU Referendum seeing levels of hate crime soaring in many communities who previously lived peacefully side by side with each other, and uncertainty over our future with the rest of Europe continuing to dominate debate and worry businesses.
As we are in the Christmas period, homelessness, loneliness, hunger and poverty in one of the richest nations in the world are on the rise, confirming what we all know, that the Government’s policies and failed austerity programme has been about political choices, choices that have hit the poor, the worse off and the disabled more than anyone else.
As we leave 2016, WASPI women are still being denied their pensions, our postal workers and train drivers have had no option but to take industrial action due to our stubborn Government who won’t listen to their concerns regarding branch closures, pay and train safety, and our prison staff, who have already been on strike, are working in such dangerous environments that they are being subjected to assaults on a daily basis.
Social care services nationally are reaching melt down with many of our elderly and disabled being left without a service, and the future of hospitals up and down the country, including our own, remains unclear.
This year has been a year like no other, I hope that we don’t see a repeat in 2017.
I have spent this year making sure the voices of the people of Shields have been heard loud and clear in Parliament, I will never stop feeling honoured that you have chosen me to do so on your behalf and I look forward to doing so again in the coming year.
I sincerely hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and that your wishes come true in 2017.